Is there a perfect one?
Here I think the answer is no!
I do believe many active divers hate to rent out scuba dive gear. The question of correct size, pass-form, maintenance and who used the wetsuit last, drifts through your head when you go to the rental department! Many dedicated, active divers purchase their own scuba gear shortly after their open water course. After the scuba gear, the questions pops up; which scuba gear travel bag should I purchase and what features are important?
Here is a little list of things that will help you to make a good choice. Remember, a dive gear travel bag should be lightweight, manoeuvrable and spacious.
Let’s take a look at Wheels:
This is often a weak section of the travel bag. Remember, the wheels have a task to do. That task load, is to carry anywhere in the region of up to 30 kg in weight. The terrain is not always flat, smooth tiles like the airport floor, it can be uneven pathways and bumpy, hard ground. The wheels should be strong, stable and broad. If possible, the bag should have four wheels rather than two. This will make it easier at the airport or on a flat, smooth surface; you can push the travel bag rather than drag it behind you. Sometimes wheels can be exchanged for new ones in case of breakdown, but sadly, this is not often the case!
Weight of the travel bag:
A large bag will often weigh much more than a smaller one. This means, it will eat into your luggage allowance before you start to pack. Lightweight bags, made of robust material are ideal if they weigh, empty around 3.5 kg. Some bags have a very sturdy back-plate made of metal. These are strong bags but often weigh more than ones without a ‘backbone.’
Zips are important:
Zips can be a nightmare if they are not well maintained. Salt water resistant is a must, but this does not mean they will not clog up if not maintained. Silicon spray will help to keep them on the move. If they do become stuck, warm, clean water will free them from the salt crust. If possible, move all the zips every day to free them from any salt crust. After use, make sure they are clean and dry before you store them away.
Dimensions of the bag:
Most important that it meets the dimensions of the airlines. It is best to check out different airlines, each airline has different restrictions. For example; Airmalta has 30 kg of diving equipment. Air France has the sum of height x width x depth = 158cm, British Airways has a max. of 90 cm x 75 cm x 43 cm. If you exceed the limits, it can be expensive for over-sized and over-weight luggage, some airlines will refuse to take it. Trains and buses may be difficult to negotiate if your travel bag is very big. It is easier to roll it down the gangway, rather than carry it on your back.
Waterproof section or pocket:
Some dive travel bags offer a waterproof section for wet gear. This can be handy if you have wet or damp dive gear and it keeps it away from dry equipment.
Make sure the stitching is good and strong, as well as a strong outer material. Nylon based material is strong and robust, it will slide easier on conveyor belts and luggage shoots. Imitation leather will snag easily, weak stitching will break and thin outside material will tear. Remember, airport baggage handlers hate heavy luggage, they don’t always grab the handle! Often outer pockets are where luggage handlers grab hold of. Make sure you have no valuables inside the outer pockets in case they rip.
Some travel bags have a zip-on backpack. These are ideal if you have both hands full and have to negotiate borders and passport control. Remember though to remove them before the flight, as they can be easily unzipped during transit.
Separate dry clothes section:
A dry space, which is separate from the main bag is a definite must. If you need to pack dry clothes, this dry space should allow you to keep wet and dry things separate.
Mesh bag pockets for small items:
Things like batteries, cables, phone chargers etc. can be stored in mesh interior pockets. It keeps these together, but is not ideal for fragile equipment such as torches.
How may Litres do you need?
A lot will depend on the destinations you wish to travel to. If you require a drysuit, a 100 L to 120 L travel bag will be required. If you take a thin 3 mm wetsuit and use a light dive travel BCD, a travel bag with 80 L should be enough. A lot depends on your duration, the climate and what dive gear you use. Travel bags for dive gear are available in 90/120 L, 60/80 L and small ones with 40/50 L.
Make sure you can pull your travel bag with a handle that extends from the backbone of the bag. This will make it easier if your bag has only two wheels. Check that shoulder straps are padded, it is a good feature when the time comes you have to carry your bag. If you only have handle grips, make sure they are robust and there is plenty of them. Check that the zips are good and that they are lockable. Top branded dive equipment are much sort after commodities, so make sure you lock your bags! Do not advertise what you have in your bag. In some countries dive equipment is worth a lot on the second hand market.
Why not travel to the Island of Gozo, a paradise for divers!
Come and join us for an adventure underwater with Dive Smart Gozo.